Science and Psychology speak to Art’s influence and impact on our lives going far beyond its aesthetic merits. Carl Jung, the father of analytical psychology, spoke of Art’s influence on the collective unconscious and our big picture story as a society in The Red Book as well as it’s more individual impact through symbols on our personal narratives in his groundbreaking book Man And His Symbols.
I see art as an agent for personal healing and transformation. In my Feng Shui practice, I look first to the narrative being expressed in my clients art. Feng Shui is one of the 5 Branches of Chinese medicine and I take a laser focus on my clients art to inform my “diagnosis.” My work is strongly influenced by Jung particularly where it comes to Symbolism and Metaphor in art.
“Art accesses some of the most advanced processes of human intuitive analysis and expressivity and a key form of aesthetic appreciation is through embodied cognition, the ability to project oneself as an agent in the depicted scene,” said Christopher Tyler, director of the Smith-Kettlewell Brain Imaging Center at the Neuroscience and Society speaker series sponsored by the AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program and the Dana Foundation on Oct. 24, 2013.
In my personal estimation, I would go so far as to say that Art is Alchemy… I see a direct correlation with my clients personal narratives reflected in the art and imagery they surround themselves with. I even based my Feng Shui practice, Narrative Space, on the premise that your home, business, or any physical space has an energetic narrative that can be interpreted and edited through Feng Shui. A significant portion of that narrative is communicated through the art in your home or business and more specifically in how that artistic narrative is curated.
I am so passionate about this subject that I interviewed Joan Norton, a Jungian Therapist M.A., M.F.T. and author of The Mary Magdalene Within and and 14 Steps to Awaken the Divine Feminine: Women in the Circle of Mary Magdalene to better understand arts psychological influence. I chose Joan, not only for her more than 40 years of expertise in Jungian Psychotherapy, but also for her unique perspective on art having been married to the now deceased artist Robert Barrere.
Laura — How does the mind respond to the visual cues and symbols in art and how do those messages to the unconscious mind affect us?
Joan — Our minds respond to images enthusiastically, as if they were food, because imagery is our first and most potent source of information about life. It can either do damage or do good, just like food. It’s wise to watch what kind of images we feed our minds on the walls of our house. Emotion is generated by artwork and it might not be the kind of emotion that will support you or move your life along in a positive direction.
Laura — Could negative imagery be damaging?
Joan — The negative influence of constantly looking at a degenerate image can be subtle in the moment but profound in the long-term. It can undermine our moral strength and turn our personal philosophy very dark.
One person’s negative image can be another person’s source of deep support. I have a painting that my sister did of jagged swirls of lines and color with a vague animal figure in the middle. I like it because I appreciate the clean-up effect of chaos, and I know that if there’s an animal in the middle there’s an instinct at work which may be creating a new, healthier pattern of consciousness. But another person might find that swirl of paint disturbing. That’s fine, it feeds me right now.
Paintings that I once found comforting can seem banal to me now, and will produce listlessness in me if I look at them. Your art should reflect you at this moment in time. In your public living room space you won’t want to put the chaos-and-animal painting, that’s probably private. Living room art images of inspiring landscapes or animals or beautiful portraits will uplift and support everyone who looks at them.
Laura — Is it possible that positive imagery in art could have benefits beyond it’s aesthetic?
Joan — Images have physical benefits beyond their aesthetic value. It’s common knowledge that relaxation imagery lowers blood pressure and releases hormones that increase the feelings of well-being. If we apply that knowledge to our wall art, you can imagine how it would improve life.
Laura — In my work as a Feng Shui practitioner, I help people both narrate and curate their art to support a positive and empowering narrative for their hopes and dreams. As a therapist, what are your thoughts on this sort of Space Therapy?
Joan — A sensitive Feng Shui practitioner is very much like a therapist who works on consciousness, observing where there is consciousness/energy “leakage” and where consciousness can be uplifted. Of course Feng Shui is not a “one size fits all” formula, and neither either is psychotherapy. Both are a “care of the soul” enterprise, and that will always and evermore be individualistic.
Joan’s insights and perspective inspire me to continue to explore the impact of art on not only my clients lives and my own, but as a universal theme. We can all take a closer look at our art and see if the symbols, metaphors and messages reflected align with a narrative that supports your hopes and dreams. Look to your own intuition about how your art makes you feel. In a broader sense, it serves us to look at art and artists of our past and present times to help inform more universal themes and dreams as a collective. Art is impacting us on a number of different levels psychologically, emotionally, energetically, aesthetically, thematically, symbolically, metaphorically and even physically.
From a Feng Shui perspective, art is telling your story in a narrative that can be energetically curated to enhance and activate the 9 different life themes reflected in the energetic Feng Shui map called the Bagua. These include: Prosperity, Fame & Reputation, Love, Family, Health, Children & Creativity, Skills & Knowledge, Career, and Travel. A Feng Shui consultation can help you curate your art to make the most of these themes while Jungian Therapy can help you better understand the themes and symbols in your art and how they are impacting you. Consider using Art in a therapeutic way to enhance your life by consciously curating it! For more insight into Feng Shui you can reach out to Laura Carrillo or visit Narrative Space and you can contact Joan Norton for more on Jungian Therapy.
Originally published at medium.com